Liars: “Drums Not Dead”
One of the most highly lauded albums of this year is also one of the most challenging to listen to and appreciate.
Less an actual collection of songs, “Drums Not Dead” is more like a series of musical ideas that resemble songs at times, but other times not; sometimes one of these musical ideas takes two or three tracks to fully resolve. Not for easy listening, no, but not designed for it either. It is a concept album that explores the dueling extremes of the creative process – ease and catchiness would be out of place.
The music in “Drums” is, predictably, very drum-centered, with almost tribal drumming and percussion forming the backbone of every track. Complementing this are the unrestrained vocals, ranging from a plaintively high falsetto to a bass-deep drone. There are few songs that follow a clear structure, and even fewer that follow the familiar verse-chorus-verse format; “It Fit When I Was a Kid” is probably the only one, and even there the chorus is limited to Gregorian-esque chants of the “ah” sound.
However, the strangeness of the music eventually takes hold, tugging the listener along with it. The songs range from thunderous and chaotic to lilting and meditative. Each shift between these two poles makes an emotional kind of sense. It is, very plainly, a complete work of art.
This is not an album for the uninitiated; if you’ve never attempted to listen to something less structured than, say, a Coldplay album, don’t try to dive into “Drums” album. If you appreciated Radiohead’s “Kid A,” Pink Floyd’s “Animals” or anything by Mogwai or Sigur Rós, then “Drums” is probably within your range. For something entirely different, strange, and wonderful, it’s a great choice.
Pimp C: “Pimpalation”
Pimp C of the duo Under Ground Kings, one of the South’s most respected southern rap groups, has dropped his long-awaited album “Pimpalation.” After spending four years locked up for a parole violation, he released the album last month.
The CD features some of the South’s rising stars, such as Mike Jones, Slim Thug Webbie and Lil’ Boosie. Also thrown in are some veterans in the rap game, Lil’ Keke, 8-Ball & MJG and Scarface.
The album features the other half of Under Ground Kings, Bun B, who was one of the vocal leaders in the protest to release his partner from prison. Bun B had the South saying “Free Pimp C.” Now both have solo albums. Surely they will work on another album together soon.
Producers Mannie Fresh and Jazze Pha helped put their mark on the album. Out of the 13 tracks, seven of them are worth listening to. “Knockin Doorz Down” features Lil’ Keke and P.O.P. So go check out Pimp C’s coming out album.
Say Hi To Your Mom: “Discosadness,” “Numbers & Mumbles,” “Ferocious Mopes,” and “Impeccable Blahs”
The band with arguably the best name in recent music history is actually not a band at all, but the work of one man by the name of Eric Elbogen, responsible for an impressive four albums this year: “Discosadness,” “Numbers & Mumbles,” “Ferocious Mopes” and “Impeccable Blahs.” Elbogen sings, writes the songs, and plays every instrument on each album. Although each stands on its own, they could also be seen as four parts to one sprawling quadruple-album.
With songs titles like “Not as Goth as They say we are” and “Hooplas Involving Circus Tricks,” the element of fun to Elbogen’s music is readily apparent. And fortunately – unlike, say, Sufjan Stevens – the songs live up to their quirky titles.
The songs range from pure fun to deeply moving, and some combine both. Over a sad piano line dusted by synthesizers in “The key of C” Elbogen laments: “There’s a treasure in your heart/that’s like a pirate’s booty.” The lines of the song stay silly, but when the chorus repeats: “Now it’s time to go/it’s time to go away,” you feel the ache in your gut. The emotions are there, and they sneak up on the listener.
Say Hi To Your Mom is a fresh look at indie pop absolutely worth checking out.
Rick Ross: “Port of Miami”
Some people might think Rick Ross’ “Port of Miami” is worthless; they might think all he is rapping about is what any other new rapper on the big scene raps about – money, cars, clothes and women.
But the streets – the people who understand what he is rapping is about – listen to the lyrics and beats and love it.
The one problem in the album is he raps about his past life as a drug dealer before he made it big time. He also brags about Miami for being the cocaine capital of the world, ignoring that it is also known for its high murder and crime rates. But then again, that’s what his life is about.
The album offers more than just “Hustlin,” his first single off the album that reached the top 10 on the charts. The beats are perfect for his style of rapping and some songs even made my grandma groove. So go check him out.
Thom Yorke: “The Eraser”
Thom Yorke’s debut solo album is a mix of electronica, lush acoustics and ornate songwriting that comes together to form something unique.
Yorke, lead singer of the highly successful band Radiohead, released his long-rumored solo album during the band’s recent summer preview tour.This collection of songs is a rich, wonderful holdover for any Radiohead fan waiting for their next album, but also has enough power to stand on its own.
With only nine songs, the album is on the short side. However, each song is completely distinct, making nine songs completely satisfying. The title track, “The Eraser,” begins with a piano melody and rolls seamlessly into a driving electronic beat, followed by Yorke’s clear, distinctive falsetto.
Other standout tracks are “Analyse” and “Skip Divided.” The former showcases what are probably Yorke’s most stunning vocals on the album, evocatively proclaiming “you’re just playing a part” over a background of a soft piano melody and electronic atmospherics.
“The Eraser” as an album is a triumph simply by being an electronica album that doesn’t sound like one at all. There are blips, beeps, synthesizers and programmed beats, yes, but the sound of the album is utterly organic and very much acoustic. This album should grace every music lover’s CD player this year.